Isidre Esteve shone like never before during the eleventh stage of Dakar 2018, which was divided into two sections. The Repsol Rally Team driver's spectacular performance in the first section earned his Sodicars Racing BV6 4x4 with adapted controls on the steering wheel the 20th best time in the competition. In the second and definitive section, the Lérida-born racer was pushed back to 26th place because of a flat tyre and radiator trouble.
Isidre Esteve and his co-driver Txema Villalobos raced to the finish line of this 240-kilometre section between Belén and Chilecito with pride, making great time, experiencing no mechanical problems, and moving down the course with the utmost precision. This allowed them to cross all the waypoints very close to the 20 first cars in the competition, and to even take on vehicles that are clearly superior to their BV6 prototype in terms of features.
“We've had an impeccable first section of the special. We kept a very good pace, overtook rivals, and enjoyed ourselves immensely, even though the course was complicated and we came across a fair number of people who'd experienced problems along the way. There were some very difficult areas, where the fesh-fesh was as high as the windscreen and didn't let you see anything ahead", explained the Repsol and Onyx Seguros driver with satisfaction.
Esteve's flawless performance suffered at the beginning of the second section, where the car experienced two problems in just 10 kilometres. As Isidre Esteve explains, “First we had a flat while crossing a river. Shortly after we changed the tyre, the engine temperature went up suddenly when a radiator hose burst. Txema Villalobos fixed it very quickly and we used all of our drinking water to refill the radiator”.
This unexpected setback made the Repsol Rally Team lose nearly 25 minutes and pushed them back six places at the close of the stage. “It's a shame, it spoiled the good time we were making. But, even so, we're very happy because, at this stage of the Dakar and with so much wear and tear accumulated, who doesn't have problems?” the Lérida-born driver mused after a 6 hour, 24 minute, and 28 second race to the finish line at Chilecito.
With today's brilliant performance, Isidre Esteve continues to climb in the overall ranking and is already 21st in the provisional scores, with an accumulated time of 54 hours, 45 minutes, and 23 seconds. In the T1.2 category, reserved for modified diesel 4x4s, he remains in a distinguished third place with his Sodicars Racing BV6 prototype with adapted controls on the steering wheel by Guidosimplex and BFGoodrich tyres.
Tomorrow, the Dakar Rally will be witness to its 12th stage, spanning the distance between Chilecito and San Juan, a total of 523 timed kilometres, the longest special of this edition. “It promises to be a very long and demanding day, and wear and fatigue can take their toll, but we are highly motivated and have the strength to continue racing”, the driver from Oliana said.